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August 12, 2013

Balanced on the Edge

Balanced on the Edge

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge.

~ Danielle LaPorte

I have never been excellent with boundaries. Maybe as a child no one told me no often enough, or I somehow missed the lesson that there were things I couldn’t at least try if not achieve. I have always figured that this somewhat contributed to my success in life – I have not been afraid to try things, to push forward, to test boundaries (mine and others). I have been lucky. I have continued to find my way down a successful path – one that has allowed me to have a comfortable life, personal success and more than I really ever asked for.

I have often approached life like a fitness pursuit. Always looking for the next level of my personal ability like a runner looks for better times or a weightlifter a new PR (personal record)

The two are not that different really – you work hard and continue to put new challenges in front of yourself to see if you can do better. If you run you can always run a little farther, tackle a hill, pick up your pace. CrossFit is built for this – there is always a heavier weight, a harder technique, another rep to add. Life is basically the same if you think about it. Continue reading…

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July 22, 2013

Group Therapy

Group Therapy

IMG_4428“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

~ Ryunosuke Satoro

For the past couple of years as a runner, I have run alone almost exclusively. It’s not that I don’t occasionally go out with a friend, but mostly, I don’t. My running time is my time to not talk to others, to not answer, to not share. It’s mine. It’s personal.

In years past, however, my preference was always for groups. I did serious martial arts for a long time and part of what I loved was the dynamic of my school. We trained together. We trained a lot, and over time we became like a family. One big sweaty family united by upper cuts and side kicks and wrist locks. In years since I have had similar kinds of experiences in yoga studios, though less so because there is more transience in yoga.

For me personally, a funny thing happened over the years – the harder and more demanding my family and career became, the more I craved activities that took me away from people not towards them. Running lets me be an exercise hermit, and I am grateful for that. It also lets me be at my own pace and push only as much as I want to on any given day. One of my readers here once commented about physical “diminishing returns” in running…and I wonder if this is partly why.

So I started to think recently, that maybe part of the magic of a group has to do with accountability.

When someone else is there to push you, maybe you can expand your limits more than you can on your own?

Continue reading…

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July 21, 2013

New Days, New Goals, New Challenges

New Days New Goals New Challenges

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
~ Goethe

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I sort of stopped paying attention to this blog some time ago. Life gets busy and writing seems more like a thing that get in the way than…well, than much of anything.

Plus sometimes I think to myself, this thing has served its purpose. I ran for a year, I wrote for a year.

End. Of. Story.

But perhaps not. I think that part of what happened here – and those who followed along bore witness to this, is that I started to really enjoy running – it became part of my life. I still like it now and I still run and it’s now just kind of part of who I am. In the eyes of some, that might be a successful experiment. It has been for me. The minimal learning here was that at least in my life – busy, chaotic, full, but with a priority to stay healthy and fit – the age-old advice that you should chose an activity you like for your regular exercise because you will be more likely to do it – proved to be untrue. What I found – and this might help others too – was that what I really needed was an activity that I could actually accomplish regularly despite my life. Running fit. So I ran with committed effort. I ran and it changed me. At least it made me a runner.

I think it also made me a better person.

I will never be a great runner. I’m not going to be fast, I’m not going for super distance. As a 5 foot tall woman with asthma, I really wasn’t build for this sport. But it gives me results, it gives me a stronger, healthier body – and frankly, it gives me a healthier mind. And once I learned all that, it could have been the end of the story. And perhaps for running it is.

Then there was CrossFit.

I am probably about to make a terrible mistake in writing what comes next. Continue reading…

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June 29, 2012

Runniversary

Runniversary

It is necessary to try to surpass one’s self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life.
~ Queen Christina of Sweden

Technically, I am turning 43 today. But here, I am going to celebrate turning One.

One year ago today I laced up my very first pair of running shoes and I committed to a new course. I decided to start running but, more than that, I decided to run for a year.

Here I am. I have arrived.

When I started this journey, a year sounded like infinity and a half a mile in running shoes felt like a marathon. Today, I sit here hoping to recover from a herniated (ok 3) disc in my back and I finding myself wondering if I could manage to train for a half marathon in the fall if all goes well.

In-between, I have put a lot of miles under my feet and I have learned a whole lot about who I am.

Isn’t that funny? When you are a kid, you think of grown ups sort of like fully cooked humans. They are “done” and you are growing. Adults tell you that all the time don’t they? When you are grown up, you’ll see… But the special secret of grownuphood is that – if you pay attention – there is always more growing up to do.

One thing I learn more and more as I keep growing up is that we can be more or less conscious in this process. I am not saying that we can always choose the lessons or the training grounds, but we can choose how actively we participate in the process. On the surface, I chose running because I got to age 42 and realized that I needed to make a hard commitment to taking better care of my body because it was not getting any younger. (You can read about where I started here.) And I could have just left the decision at that. Lots of people make commitments to exercise right? And they quietly stop them 2 weeks or 2 months later and life goes on.

I chose to run for an entire year because I was looking for something more. Continue reading…

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March 2, 2012

My Life – and Other Endurance Sports

My Life – and Other Endurance Sports

 

 

 

 

 

Endurance is patience concentrated.
~ Thomas Carlyle

I am writing this this morning from my home airport – Santa Ana John Wayne.

Today marks the beginning of a very busy Spring of travel…Seattle, Austria, Italy, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Texas.

This morning I was up and running on my treadmill at 4 am and thinking:

My life is like one long exercise in sprinting from here to here to here…why on Earth am I up when I could be asleep? Why am I running now when I am sure that sometime later today I will run to a meeting or to catch a cab or do the special sprint between terminals in 4 inch heels (I dare you guys…)

I guess there is not an easy answer to this. I am running because I said I would. I am running because I can and because it is helping me achieve the physical goal I want to achieve before I reach whatever we might call “old.” I am running because it is the only thing I can really make time to do in a life that never seems to slow down or stop long enough these days for me to do anything else.

My life does feel like an endurance sport some days. Like I need to keep fit just to keep up with the daily demands.

Ah…boarding.

Here we go.

Happy Friday!

Jacqueline

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February 2, 2012

The Limits of Imagination

The Limits of Imagination

Everything you can imagine is real.  ~Pablo Picasso

I have noticed something interesting over the past few weeks. Suddenly – unprovoked – I have had several people suggest LONG runs to me…a 10K, a half-marathon, a full marathon (ultra…anyone?)

I have no idea why.

Maybe I crossed some invisible line after running for 7 months where suddenly the real runners I know are starting to look at me a bit more like I am one of them rather than someone who is going to casually dabble in running before moving on to the next best thing. It’s true – I am taking this pretty seriously – so perhaps that is what they sense?

To myself, however, I still feel a bit like a tourist making a long stay in a foreign country. I can sort of speak enough of the language to get by now, but I am definitely not full immersed in the cultures and ways of the locals. Still, I definitely fit in more now than before…and kind of I like it here in the world of runners for right now and I am not planning on moving on any time soon.

But when they start suggesting things like running farther than twice the distance I have ever run, well, I start to think about getting this first bus out of town. Continue reading…

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January 29, 2012

Where Are You Going?

Where Are You Going?

Where are you going?
Where do you go?
Are you looking for answers
To questions under the stars?
~ Dave Matthews Band

Transitions are always interesting.

One of the things I love about living at the ocean is that it is the transition from land to sea – even though I see it nearly every day, I still get that feeling of awe like I am standing not just at the edge of the beach, but like I am standing at the edge of the world.

The coast is an obvious transition – waves crashing on sand, liquid against solid – it all clearly says “this is where things change.”

Transitions in our lives are not always so obvious. Sure, there are the big moments – a birth, a death, a move, a new job, a new relationship – but sometimes the most subtle changes are the most meaningful and we may only sense them as they pass by or in hindsight days, months or years later.

It is late January and I have been running for 7 months now. I have been trying to be acutely aware of if or how this experience is altering me – physically, mentally, emotionally. This new movement is not just about moving my body, it’s about moving things in my life, but in the beginning, that was not easy to see.

One thing I have not really known since I started to run is if I would simply wake up one day and not do it again – maybe it would hurt too much or just feel too hard. Maybe I would really hate it or just be bored. But that has not happened. In fact, I have run more than I ever thought I would.

The transition is subtle, but it has gone like this: I intend to run -> I am starting to run ->I am running.

I thought about this today (as I was running) and and asked what would be next?

Continue reading…

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January 26, 2012

On Keeping the Pace, Outpacing Myself

On Keeping the Pace, Outpacing Myself

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more 
~ Steve Prefontaine

I think I have mentioned my competitive nature in this blog before? Mostly, I am not so much competitive with others. I am, however, fiercely self-competitive and I am constantly trying to figure out improve on, better and best my own accomplishments. This has pros and cons. On the upside, it has led me to a pretty successful career…on the downside, it can leave me exhausted from spending energy on things that could really be left alone to progress along some natural course.

At the suggestion of a friend I recently read the book Strengths Finder 2.0 (might say more about that another time) and took the associated test. One of my top 5 strengths showed up as “Achiever” which is, in part, defined as one who “needs to prove yourself to yourself each day.” When I read that, I thought, “Yep- pretty much.” You see – and don’t take this personally – I don’t care all that much about how I stack up against you. But I do care a lot that the me of today is better than the me of yesterday.

Continue reading…

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January 23, 2012

Looking at My Legs

Looking at My Legs

My very earliest internal conversations about taking up running started with a critical assessment of my legs. Specifically an assessment of my thighs.

I come from a long line of short (I am 5 feet tall), curvy (trust me) women. Growing up in coastal Southern California, where the ideal of beauty is 5 foot 7 and blonde with long lean legs, I always felt a bit cheated. Even as a kid I was pretty sure my lifetime would not see the rise of medical treatment to make me look like that.

Generally, I have never been over-critical of the way I look – but it has always seemed to me that regardless of my weight or fitness level my legs stubbornly stay attached to an extra layer of fat that I just cannot seem to rid myself of. I have spent countless hours over the years looking in the mirror and thinking “If only…”

To get an idea of how much I really dislike my thighs, I live in Southern California and I have not worn a pair of shorts outside of my house in recent memory. At least not if I thought anyone would see me.

Several months before my last birthday I was having one of these contemplative  moments in the mirror and I started bargaining with myself. I am bargaining about liposuction. The conversation sounds like this: Continue reading…

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January 8, 2012

Goal! (Or Not?)

I have written here before that I am a perfectionist. One way this shows up is that I am continually asking myself questions like:

  • Can I do that better?
  • What’s the next level/step?
  • How do I progress or move forward?

I can sometimes get a little obsessed with reaching one goal and then trying to find a way to get to the next via the shortest path.

This has been a great thing in my career. I work hard, get things done and never hesitate to tackle the next thing that needs my attention. I will tend towards producing better and better work over time because  I am constantly comparing what I do today to what I did yesterday or last week or last year – and I want to see that I have somehow progressed.

But the older I get, the more I recognize that this strategy doesn’t work for everything – and in some cases it may actually hinder my results or at least keep me from enjoying the journey. Continue reading…

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